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Having "Single Malt Whiskey" on label if no new barrels were used

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I gather that if you have aged your malted barley spirit in nothing but ex-bourbon and ex-wine barrels, you cannot legally call it "Malt Whiskey." It must instead be called "Whiskey Distilled From a Malt Mash."

Could your label, though, read something like:

Distillery Name
American Single Malt Whiskey
Distilled From a Malt Mash

Or:

Distillery Name
American Single Malt
Whiskey Distilled From a Malt Mash


Thanks!
JD

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That's the direction we are headed.  We're doing something along the lines of based on our consultants input.

Distillery Name
American Single Malt Whiskey
Whiskey Distilled From Malt Mash

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You will find that the TTB is not very good on correctly approving versions of "single malt whiskey" aged in anything other than new charred oak barrels. But yes, you can create a combination of text including fanciful to allow "American Single Malt Whiskey" somewhere on the label, and as long as somewhere else the correct description like "Whiskey Distilled from Malt Mash" exists, then it may be approved. I have seen a few labels out there where the only place I can find the correct description is buried in some text on the rear label. I have been puzzled by these, because clearly the information on the front label is not a correct description, because they are described as NOT being aged in charred oak, but the front label appears to label them as Malt Whiskey.

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4 hours ago, Thatch said:

That's the direction we are headed.  We're doing something along the lines of based on our consultants input.

Distillery Name
American Single Malt Whiskey
Whiskey Distilled From Malt Mash

Thanks for the reply. Are you using 100% used barrels? Perhaps you could help me with another question: ex-wine barrels that are sold as "Neutral Red/White." These barrels are typically very cheap compared to everything else, due to how many times they've been used for wine. Are they beyond the point of being useful for aging whiskey? Or would they only be useful for very long (12+yrs) aging periods?

Cheers
JD

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2 hours ago, bluestar said:

You will find that the TTB is not very good on correctly approving versions of "single malt whiskey" aged in anything other than new charred oak barrels. But yes, you can create a combination of text including fanciful to allow "American Single Malt Whiskey" somewhere on the label, and as long as somewhere else the correct description like "Whiskey Distilled from Malt Mash" exists, then it may be approved. I have seen a few labels out there where the only place I can find the correct description is buried in some text on the rear label. I have been puzzled by these, because clearly the information on the front label is not a correct description, because they are described as NOT being aged in charred oak, but the front label appears to label them as Malt Whiskey.

Thank you for your reply! Do you know if re-charring an ex-wine or ex-bourbon barrel would put that barrel back in the category of "charred new oak"? My gut says no, but I'd like to know for sure.

Best,
JD

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3 hours ago, JDJDJD said:

Thank you for your reply! Do you know if re-charring an ex-wine or ex-bourbon barrel would put that barrel back in the category of "charred new oak"? My gut says no, but I'd like to know for sure.

Best,
JD

No it does not. What is required is not a "newly charred" oak barrel, it is a new, charred oak barrel.

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American Single Malt Whiskey - This should be nothing more then a fanciful name
Whiskey Distilled From Malt Mash - This type specifically calls for used barrels.

We will be using Neutral barrels but I have no how long to count on them lasting.

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On 6/21/2018 at 9:43 PM, JDJDJD said:

Could your label, though, read something like:

Distillery Name
American Single Malt Whiskey
Distilled From a Malt Mash

Or:

Distillery Name
American Single Malt
Whiskey Distilled From a Malt Mash


Thanks!
JD

The first should not be approved, because you can not use a legal descriptive category on the label if it is not the category of the spirit. In this case, it is not "Malt Whiskey" so you can not have a fanciful name like "American Single Malt Whiskey",  just like you can not have the word "Bourbon" in a name if the product is not bourbon. The second could be used, because it does not have a named whiskey type in the fanciful name "American Single Malt".

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Here are the relevant rules: if a spirit is NOT a legally defined category and type, then that category and type can NOT appear on the label; if it is a legally defined category and type, then that category and type MUST appear on the label; if there is NO legally defined category and type, it is a specialty with a fanciful name and formula required; and in any case, no text on the label can be misleading or untruthful, per the opinion of the TTB.

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11 minutes ago, bluestar said:

The first should not be approved, because you can not use a legal descriptive category on the label if it is not the category of the spirit. In this case, it is not "Malt Whiskey" so you can not have a fanciful name like "American Single Malt Whiskey",  just like you can not have the word "Bourbon" in a name if the product is not bourbon. The second could be used, because it does not have a named whiskey type in the fanciful name "American Single Malt".

That makes sense. I very much appreciate your help and followup with this.
JD

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Whole lot of folks already doing it.

http://www.americansinglemaltwhiskey.org/

Not quite sure what the issue is since WHISKY DISTILLED FROM MALT MASH is a class of Whisky.  

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It seems the issue is what is fanciful and what is not, perhaps? "Single Malt" is fanciful but "Malt Whiskey" is not. So separating "Malt" from "Whiskey" on the labeling seems to solve the issue. When the time comes I will probably label as follows:

Distillery Name
American Single Malt
[label illustration]
Whiskey Distilled from Malt Mash
[abv and other info]

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That should work nicely!

Cheers!

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Let me be the cynic here.  Because TTB has approved labels formatted in so many different ways, you flat out can't make any statement about what is "right" and what is "wrong" based on what TTB has approved or denied.  Further, you do not declare the class and type when you submit the application for label approval.  TTB does that.  TTB enters the information onto the form.  So, they may assign two different class and type categories to products that have essentially the same label.  This keeps life an interesting guess.

You can probably find precedent for about anything, including one go around in which TTB insisted, over the objection of the distiller - a major by the way- that a certain spirit distilled at 140 proof was a neutral spirits. 

Horses of all colors escape from the TTB label corral.

The discussion here involves three questions:

  • 1.  What is the proper designation for the product
  • 2.  How must it be stated on the label
  • 3.  Where must the information appear.

What is the proper designation

My take on this (and it is mine, not TTB's) is that  a whiskey distilled from 51% or more of malt at 160 proof or less, stored in used oak containers at 125 proof or less, and bottled at not less than 80 proof, is, under the standards of 5.22(b)(2)  "Whiskey Distilled From Malt Mash."  The class is whiskey, the type is whiskey distilled from malt mash.

Under the definition of the term "age," it whiskey distilled from malt mash acquires  age by storage in used oak.    

The term "single malt" is meaningless on American whiskies.  On Scotch it means that all of the product came from a single distillery.  There is no American equivalent, although the state of distillation is mandatory information (5.32(b)(10) if the whiskey was not distilled in the same state as shown on the required name and address statement (5.36(d)) and may be stated on any label.

The mandatory statement of class and type (5.35) requires, as  bluestar states, that  " the class and type of distilled spirits shall be stated in conformity with §5.22 if defined therein.  "Whiskey distilled from malt mash" is defined in 5.22, so that is the required class and type statement on a product that conforms to the standard. 

How must the designation  be stated on the label

The closest I can come to a rule on how you can break up the statement of class and type occurs in 5.33(b)(4), which provides, "Statements of the type of distilled spirits shall be as conspicuous as the statement of the class to which it refers, and in direct conjunction therewith."  The term "direct conjunction" is a bit of a bother.  Since conjunction means, in this sense, "occurring together in space," direct conjunction must mean more than that.  Section 5.37, which provides rules for alcohol statements,  defines the term "direction conjunction,' parenthetically, to mean "with no intervening material."

If we accept that as the definition of the term as it used throughout part 5, then we can state the class (whiskey) and the type (whiskey distilled from malt mash," on separate lines, as long as there is no intervening material, which I take to mean more than space.  Therefore, as statement of the sort

Whiskey (Class)

Whiskey Distilled From Malt Mash (Type) 

is arguably acceptable as the required class and type statement, where the type statement appears in direction conjunction with the class statement.

When we put the term "malt" before the class statement "Whiskey, " we get to play Philadelphia lawyer games.  Is the phrase "single malt whiskey" misleading, since "Malt Whiskey" is a type of whiskey and the bottle obviously does not contain a whiskey that conforms to that standard.  Put another way, is the term "malt whiskey" taken, in this context,  a compound noun, or is malt a separate modifier, like single, that is not a part of a compound noun.  I said Philadelphia lawyer, did I not.

Such silliness. These sort of arguments drive me nuts.  In this case, the argument that it is compound noun and therefore likely to mislead, presumes that the consumer actually knows all of the fine distinctions the rules draw.  But is there really  anything more or less misleading about this form:

Single Malt Whiskey

Whiskey Distilled from Malt Mash

than our arguable acceptable label? 

I think the public COLA registry shows plenty of examples of the latter, which, if they are properly approved, demonstrate that TTB finds it is not misleading.  On the other hand, it just may be that TTB specialists, like the consumer, just don't know. 

Here is yet another alternative:

Single Malt

Whiskey,

Whiskey Distilled from Malt Mash

or perhaps

Single Malt

Whiskey Distilled from Malt Mash

or yet again

Single

Malt

Whiskey

Distilled from Malt Mash

or ... forget it.  Like I said, silliness.  

Submit the label.  See what happens.  

 

 

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For the most part, I agree with everything @dhdunbar just said, but would add: TTB ultimately will disallow anything that they consider might be fraudulent. So while "single malt" is not defined in the CFR, since it has a typical meaning in the industry based on Scotch requirements, they would likely not approve to use the term if not meant in the same way. That being said, they won't know you used it improperly unless either your label description or a formula indicates you don't meet the Scotch requirements, or you get audited. So the label would likely be approved for the term "single malt" unless contradicted elsewhere. All that with the caveat that as @dhdunbar said, many labels get approved by TTB erroneously, but that does not establish any precedent as far as the TTB is concerned. Just think about how many labels for a while were approved for whiskey with "aged less than" on the label, even though expressly prohibited by the CFR. It was so bad, the TTB had to issue a circular reminding everyone it was not allowed, even though obviously they helped to promulgate the mistakes.

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Interesting discussion and very relevant to a label I'm working on and about to submit. One point  @dhdunbar "My take on this (and it is mine, not TTB's) is that  a whiskey distilled from 51% or more of malt at 160 proof or less, stored in used oak containers at 125 proof or less, and bottled at not less than 80 proof, is, under the standards of 5.22(b)(2)  "Whiskey Distilled From Malt Mash."  The class is whiskey, the type is whiskey distilled from malt mash."

Looking at CFR 5.22  I don't see where it says "stored in used oak containers at 125 proof or less". It certainly says that for other types but not specially in the section defining whisky from X mash.

"(2) “Whisky distilled from bourbon (rye, wheat, malt, or rye malt) mash” is whisky produced in the United States at not exceeding 160° proof from a fermented mash of not less than 51 percent corn, rye, wheat, malted barley, or malted rye grain, respectively, and stored in used oak containers; and also includes mixtures of such whiskies of the same type. Whisky conforming to the standard of identity for corn whisky must be designated corn whisky."

Is there another relevant section?

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You are correct.  The standard for the  "whiskey distilled from " designations does not require storage at 125 or less.  Used containers, yes, but not 125 or less.

I broke my own rule.  I didn't look before leaping.  I just spouted from memory.  That is a dangerous practice.

Thanks

 

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Other non-named whiskey types can also be aged at higher proof, like light whiskey.

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On 7/4/2018 at 6:36 PM, dhdunbar said:

You are correct.  The standard for the  "whiskey distilled from " designations does not require storage at 125 or less.  Used containers, yes, but not 125 or less.

I broke my own rule.  I didn't look before leaping.  I just spouted from memory.  That is a dangerous practice.

Thanks

 

Thanks for your detailed explanation. 

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